INTERVIEW: Private sector is key player in accelerating Africa’s digital transition: Dubai’s KAOUN CEO

Doaa A.Moneim , Thursday 8 Jun 2023

Trixie LohMirmand, CEO of KAOUN International and Executive Vice President of Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), told Ahram Online that investing more in Africa's digital infrastructure and facilitating funding for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) are vital steps for creating a single digital market in Africa in line with the continent's economic sustainability plans by 2030.



“Investment in infrastructure is a crucial factor, and it is often cited as one of the primary hurdles, in my opinion,” LohMirmand told Ahram Online during GITEX Africa2023.

KAOUN International is a DWTC subsidiary that aims to establish global partnerships in local and international markets and organizes GITEX Global, one of the world's largest annual technology events held annually in Dubai.

“In addition to infrastructure, another significant obstacle is obtaining funding, which is challenging due to the vast and diverse landscape of Africa,” according to LohMirmand.

She believes that one of the primary objectives of GITEX Africa2023 in its inaugural edition is to connect governments with investors to achieve these objectives.

GITEX Africa2023 aimed to promote and expedite digital transformation in Africa and exhibit the latest technology-based solutions over a three-day period.

LohMirmand stated that the event's purpose is to “enhance the continent's digital transition by allowing investors to gain a better understanding of the government's plans and programs for the citizens of the country, instilling confidence in various governments and their commitments.”

LohMirmand believes that creating a comprehensive strategy in this area will take several years, but a larger platform like GITEX Africa, as opposed to smaller individual events, will generate more pressure and a stronger desire to expedite progress because more people are involved in the ecosystem.

LohMirmand emphasized that GITEX Africa “has effectively integrated the entire African continent into the global innovation ecosystem, providing access to the resources, experts, network of connections, and knowledge necessary to establish a single, unified digital economy.”

LohMirmand believes that the presence of numerous African ministers and government departments at the event is a strong indication of their commitment to collaboration to establish a single digital market by 2023.

She emphasized that African leaders are “persistent and are working tirelessly with the private sector and among themselves to achieve their goals, making it entirely feasible. Even if they don't accomplish the entire objective, significant progress is still a noteworthy achievement.”

LohMirmand expressed that GITEX Africa demonstrates that creating a genuinely pan-African event is achievable.

“GITEX Africa is not solely an African event; it's global. Exhibitors from the United States, Europe, Latin America, and the United Kingdom participated, and representatives from all over the world attended the event, making it a global event,” she explained.

When asked by Ahram Online about the private sector's role in accelerating digital transition in Africa, LohMirmand stated that the private sector must engage in more sharing because technology is advancing rapidly.

LohMirmand also added that “continuous engagement and education, training governments about what to anticipate and how to incorporate and utilize different technologies, are critical.”

Furthermore, she emphasized the “significance of the private sector comprehending that various countries are developing at different rates.”

LohMirmand included that “there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and it is not appropriate to prioritize commercial interests over comprehending a country's required priorities. Some countries may require less sophisticated, traditional services that might not offer many commercial possibilities for businesses.”

LohMirmand stated that the private sector has a responsibility to collaborate with governments to provide them with the necessary and essential solutions at that stage and then scale them up.

LohMirmand stated that “GITEX Africa's primary goal is to establish connections and bring people together to create an open platform. The event provides governments with critical momentum, which is essential in getting disparate countries to come together, align, and harmonize.”

LohMirmand expressed her hope that governments, partners, and communities will utilize this opportunity effectively every year and use it as a foundation to enhance and expand initiatives and programmes that advance the digital transformation process in Africa.

LohMirmand emphasized that “the goal is to work towards the 2030 vision of unifying Africa and breaking down barriers.” She added that she “has been asked many times why Morocco and Marrakech are ideal locations for this event?”

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